Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Good, The Bad and The Decor Debate: When You and Your Partner Disagree On Home Style

When you marry someone, you accept them as they are. Over time, you begin to join together - the "me" of old becomes "we". You think as one unit, blissfully happy with the person you chose and the life that you can live together.

Until you disagree on something to do with your home.

Then that wonderful, blessed person you were thanking the world for becomes The Enemy. It happens to every couple, no matter how harmonious. As you grew up in different ways, with different experiences and ideas of what a home "should" be, the clash is perhaps inevitable.

Maybe you lucked out, and you and your partner never disagree on home and decor choices. Perhaps one of you just doesn't care and is happy to give the other free rein. If this applies to you, then enjoy your blissful freedom of home expression - but for the vast majority of us, there will be something along the way that causes a flare.

Going through such a scenario right now and in need of some assistance? There are good and bad ways to deal with this difference of opinion. To avoid the pitfalls and capitalize on the things that work, here are a few ideas.

BAD WAY: Arguing relentlessly.

He wants to have an open-plan living space.

You prefer rooms to have individual divides.

So you argue - and it doesn't stop. You bicker, moan at one another. Occasionally, you might sit down and try and convince him of the individual divides idea. However, it's not going to work, as, by that stage, you're both so entrenched in your position.

You both have to be willing to compromise. In this example, you could try open-plan but with dividers possible using movable room separators. You still get your privacy; he can open it up when he wants to.

GOOD WAY: Acknowledge the merits in the other's argument.
Even if you disagree, there is no reason to think that the other person is 100% wrong. Becoming entrenched in your position tends to mean you can use wide brush strokes to condemn their every point. This is an easy trap to fall into, and it's harmful because they may be onto something.

Take an example about furniture size. He wants to have big furniture; he's larger than you, takes up more space, and wants to feel comfortable. You, however, are cautious about the size of the space you have available. You worry large furniture is going to dominate it.

Nevertheless, there is a chance he's onto something. The key to compromise here is to take his philosophy - everything should be big! - and meld it with yours. You could, for example, sacrifice over a room to the larger furniture idea. He can choose the furniture in the bedroom; you end the argument and get to enjoy the benefits of king-size mattresses and huge pillows. Who's going to argue with that?

BAD WAY: Compromise, but be bitter about it.
Say you go with the above plans. You've enjoyed the merits of the bigger bed, or you have your room separators. Then, every time you go to get into the bed or put up a separator, you make a quip about how inconvenient it is. A little dig; nothing serious, you think, just an off the cuff comment.

This happens both ways; he might be guilty of moaning about the smaller furniture in the living room, despite his huge bed. It's the kind of underhanded problem that can bother the other person and potentially cause serious marital damage.

If you come to a decision and reach a compromise, then stick to it. Get this in writing if you have to: both of you signing to show you accept the decision that has been made. It's worth putting a penalty clause in as well, just to stop the creeping discontent from bubbling over. A week's worth of laundry chores is always a good place to start.

GOOD WAY: Divide rooms.
If the above compromise strategy is not going to work, then it might be time to divide the rooms. He gets to choose the furniture and decor for the living room and bedroom. Meanwhile, the bathroom and kitchen are your domain. While you may dislike some of his choices, at least you get everything you want with yours. If you really can't agree, sometimes this is the best way of feeling comfortable. It may end up with a hotch-potch of home styles, but it's better than ceaseless arguments.